The past few months have been full of excitement and have brought much joy to my life. I will begin with writing about Alaska as I have not been able to make a post about this amazing experience. Specifically I would like to talk about getting there. We set out from Salt Lake City, Utah. Our first stop was Grand Teton National Park. This spectacular vista never seems to get old. It was an amazingly clear day. To top it off the high peaks still had a considerable amount of snow. This contrast between the dark rock and the pure white of the snow pack only added to the amazing vista. I was happy to be able to show my friends Jesus and Xavi the beauty of the mountains. However this was just the first stop on this epic road trip.
As we continued on we reached Yellowstone National Park. There we viewed bison grazing on the large plains and of course stopped to see Old Faithful. It was in here at Old Faithful where we first heard about the flood in Calgary. Because the section between Calgary and Banff of Trans Canada 1 was closed we had to reevaluate our route. The logical option for the most scenic drive was clear. We decided to reroute over night to Seattle, Washington. Instead of driving the Famed Alcan highway we instead decided to drive the Sea to Sky Highway then take the Cassiar Highway to the Yukon. Despite the miserable night to reach Seattle The trip was well worth it. Not many get a chance to take this route. by this point we believed that we had already passed the biggest obstacle in our trip after having to change the route. This was far from the truth. In the next entry I will write about the largest obstacle we faced on the drive north.
I am now back in the United States. These last 3 weeks have been an amazing experience that I will never forget. I was able to see a different side of Fiji I never could have imagined. One day I would love to return in order to visit other parts of such an amazing place. Although we only stuck to the main island Viti Levu we had a unique opportunity to really learn about this island in great depth. We learned about history, culture and custom as well as the effect that tourism can play in both positive and negative lights. I learned that sustainable tourism does not need to be dull or limiting. If done correctly it can provide just as incredible experience while benefiting both the local economy and allow for the preservation of culture. This is a hard balance in a world dictated by the term "I want" as opposed to "I need." I am just as guilty as the next person confusing these two statements due to the immense pressure of our intensely materialistic world. Prior to this trip I was far more concerned with material wealth than the wealth of preservation of culture and the environment. This is not to say I do not want to live a comfortable life as that would be a lie, but I now place more value on the benefits that tourism can bring to a culture. Our trip up into the highlands is what allowed me to question my core beliefs. This trip allowed me to challenge my beliefs as well as my personal limits. One of these came in the form of the shark dive off the coast of Beqa Island. As an individual new to scuba diving the prospect of diving with sharks let alone some of the most aggressive species did not sit well in my stomach. However I now see sharks in a new light and truly believe they are important and need to be protected. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the amazing people we met along the way. Mostly I would like to thank my professor Ph.D. Kelly Bricker and her husband Nate for putting together such an amazing experience. I would also like to thank my peers who also took part on this trip. Lastly the amazing people of Fiji for their hospitality and generosity. Despite having just returned I leave for a new journey for the remainder of the summer. I will be leaving on June 23rd on a road trip from Salt Lake City to McCarthy Alaska. Upon arrival in the far north I will be interning for McCarthy River tours for the remainder of the summer. I hope to keep people updated and share more stories from my travels on this blog. Thank you for reading. Until Next time!!
Most of you know Fiji for its famous beaches and palm trees. I have come to learn that this place has a lot more to offer. The few days of this journey were spent in the interior of the main island Viti Levu. We were welcomed in to the village of Nakavika with welcoming greetings. This village is located in the Nimosi valley. In the Fijian language Namosi means pain. So we were in the valley of pain. This name came from the local history. The people of this area were one of the most feared warrior peoples in the whole region having never been defeated in battle. That night we drank a lot of kava with the locals. This is a drink derived from the root of a pepper plant with anesthetic or narcotic properties. The next day we bid our farewells and kayaked down the wenicoralevu river and took motorized longboats the rest of the way. Other activities have included Eco parks and sailing a traditional Fijian boat.
All of the previous activities were great. However The scuba diving was what I was looking forward to the most. During last week I got my advanced scuba certification. We did many dives with beautiful hard and soft coral formations. However the most amazing were the shark dives. Yes I went diving with sharks! We saw many species of shark. Some of these included, Bull Sharks, Lemon Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Silver Tip Sharks, Black Tip Reef Sharks, White Tip Reef Sharks.
However the Bull Sharks are amazing scuba diving with a 900lb fish that could turn around at any moment and chooses not to changed my own personal perspective on sharks. They are inquisitive sharks. They should be respected and studied. Shark behavior is very interesting and people must learn that they are not these mindless man eating machines that the media and film would like us to believe. Jaws and Deep Blue Sea do not show the true nature of sharks. Do they have that potential yes but it is the fact that they can choose that separates them from such a perspective. We did several shark dives which were all very exciting.
Yesterday we had a full day whitewater rafting down the Upper Navua River. This was great fun. The canyon reminded me of something out of Jurassic Park. But tomorrow we leave for Voli Voli Resort on the other side of Viti Levu.
Hopefully I can update all of you soon.
This summer I have set up some one in a life time experiences. Last week I began the summer by making a trip down the the University of Arizona. I went down to visit friends graduating. During my 10 day stay I party hard and got caught up after having left the university 2 years ago. After this great trip it was time to say my goodbyes and return to Salt Lake City to gear up for Expedition Fiji. This program will begin on the 14th of May and end on the 4th of June. During my time there I will learn about the Biodiversity of the Coral Reef Systems. I will also be learning about the effect of tourism on the cultural of the region. After returning to the United States I will take a quick stop back in New Jersey for my sisters H.S. Graduation. Then the second adventure begins. I will reconvene in SLC with friends for a 3000 mile road trip to Alaska. This will take place over 6 days. I will remain in Alaska for the remainder of the summer in order to take part in an internship in McCarthy Alaska. I hope to keep you all updated on my adventures.
After a long and eventful month we have sadly come to the conclusion that we must in fact cut our trip short. We have compleated over 1200 miles by way of road bike. 1200 miles, what does that mean? To some it means no more than a large number, but it holds great significance to us. We have met so many new people that we will remember for the rest of our lives. Some of those that stick out from the rest include: John, Tony, Denis, Rick and his brother, Paul Mr. Kevin Hall, Mr. Johnson, Loreta and her husband, The Mayor of Elkhorn KY, Will O'Brien and the Alzheimer's Association. We would also like to thank our parents Dr. Seth Derman, Mrs. Derman and Mrs. Rubiano. All have played a part in this trip in a large way and this journey would not have been possible without them. We have chosen to return home for a multitude of reasons. Tonight we reflect not on what we did not achive but rather all that we have learned about ourselves and the world around us. Each of us have a clearer vison of who we are as individuals as well as a team. We have discovered that together we can overcome obstacles in even the most extreme situations and therefore we plan to continue as a team and pursue other expeditions in the future. One of the greatest lessons we have come to learn is that it is not the destination but rather the journey in itself that holds the significance and value. Even though we did not reach the pacific our journey has taught us so much and has allowed us to grow in a way that cannot be measured or quantified. Tomorrow we fly home and will be reunited with those we love. Thank you so much for your support. We would like to extend a special thanks to all of those out there who played a part in making this happen and to all of you who have made contributions to our fundraising event. We hope that you have all enjoyed following our blog postings and we hope that you continue to be apart of our projects in the future.
We are still alive! I know that it has been a while since the last post and I have begun receiving calls and texts from those of you following to see what is happening. I want to start this out by saying that I thank all of you reading this as it brings me joy to know that so many of you care about the ridicules trips I plan. the last post was made from just outside of Lexington Kentucky. Today I am very happy to say that we have yet again made a border crossing. However more on that later.
After leaving Lexington area we rode 60 miles to Louisville then another 40 miles to a small town known as Salem Indiana. There we had a fine Mexican diner and passed out in the sketchy Salem Motel. It was a very hard day and as a result we enjoyed the comforts of the half a star hotel.
Waking up from our much needed slumber we found the time to be 9 o'clock! This was a big problem and we needed to get on the road fast. However we were faced with two problems. The first being the 95 degree heat and the second was that we needed breakfast. So we got on the road by 10:30am. This was a problem as we would not reach my good friend Will in the time frame we thought. After a hard and hilly 60 mile ride we reached Bloomington Indiana. Will invited us to stay at his apartment which we took him up on.
Tied and dehydrated we thought it was a good idea to out to the bars and enjoy the festive atmosphere the Kilroys and other bars in the area had to offer. The charm of Bloomington made us stay for 3 days and 4 nights. After a few beers at Upland Brewery and introductions as the 2 wild and crazy guys cycling from coast to coast, it was time to say our goodbyes and get back on the road.
Today we left Bloomington and rode our bikes about 83 miles to our current location in Robinson Illinois. We arrived at about 6 o'clock had a hearty Mexican dinner and limped to our hotel.
PS: Manny wanted me to let all of you know that when we were in Bloomington we had a vegan diner and I enjoyed it.
Keep in mind as you read this I am on the verge of falling asleep. Today we began our ride in a small town outside of Lexington KY. Our first goal was to reach Louieville and. Cross the river into our third state Indiana. This was made possible by Paul, the owner of a chineese restaurant in the middle of huge horse farm estates. After we began to eat after biking 48 miles he inquired about our journey and gave us tons of free food and water. After reaching Louisville we had gone 60 miles. However feeling good we crossed the river into the state of Indiana. A bit less affluent and less flat is how it is. Imparted to Kentucky. We have reached Salem Indiana for the night finishing the day at 100 miles of riding the most of any single day so far. Very tierd we limper I to town tierd and beaten. Tomorrow we hope to ride 50 miles to Bloomington Indiana to stay with my old friend Will.
Biking from coast to coast is goal one cannot understand until on the road for at least a period of two weeks. You cannot approach such a task as on goal but rather a series of seemingly small ones. Today marks 14 days or two weeks on the road. In these past 14 days I look back and see not only the hard work and dedication to realizing a dream, but the good in all of those we have met along the way. From John from outside of Glendale Virginia to Rick in Honker Virginia and now to the Hafleys in Kentucky. Each in there own way has helped to make this trip the experience that it has matured into. I began this trip to see if I were physically able to complete such a great feat. However I now see that this is not a race for sport but rather a trip of greater significance. As a pilgrim in search of myself I so far have learned more about who I am by way of learning about others. Every person I meet from Rick a man who has never known anything but the small world to which he has been exposed to Mr Johnson, an educated and worldly man. All of these people we meet have this charm an good quality that if judged by society would be only stick to their stereotypes and surly overlooked. But enough of my philosophical jabbering. We are currently outside of Lexington KY and tomorrow we hope to bike to Louisville and 50 miles north of the city and cross into the next state. Our plan for the next 2 days is to bike to bloomington Indiana sto stay with my friend Will. Until next time ...
Today started with breakfast at a place called Dairy King. Then an easy ride about 20 miles. Then the climb began. About 22 miles of climbing. At one point the road became so steep that we were no longer able to move fast enough maintain balance. So for a period of time we had to walk the bikes. After reaching the crest of the peak we stopped for a light packed lunch. For myself this consisted of a large Gatorade and a can of ravioli with marinara sauce. As we were sitting there on the top two east bound Cyclest rode up having traveled all the way from San Francisco. ( the same rout we are taking) They told us how these peaks we were crossing now are the most difficult terrain of the whole trip. Relived by this we pressed on down the steep set of turns placing us at the foot of yet another climb. We have now crossed most of Virginia and tomorrow we cross into Kentucky. Tonight we are staying in the home of a local carpenter who has given is a room in his home for the night. Thanks for reading our blog and I hope we can update it soon.
The last two days have been difficult both mentally and physically. As we press on into the heart of the Appalachian Mountians the roads become steeper. The grandure of this place cannot be appreciated from the view of a car or any image. One must climb the steep Mountian passes and feel the helpless feeling of false summits and the never ending rolling hills. Living in New Jersey I could not have prepared myself for the sheer climbs. Today we rode 56 miles with about 7500 feet of altitude gain. The day before was about the same. Now just under 500 miles into the ride we are on the verge of leaving Virginia for the next state. Reflecting on the experiences of this state is a job too large to document from the small keyboard on my IPhone. Regardless we have learned a lot about ourselves and even more about the people of this wonderfull place. From John outside of Glendale to Denis and Tony we have come to really embrace the people of this state and appreciate their help and support. In two days time we should be entering the state of Kentucky. It will never forget the experiences from crossing Virginia.